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Objective quality of music

Re: Objective quality of music
August 18, 2009, 08:15:06 PM

1. All things have quality; if not physical, quality of organization and truthfulness (correspondence to reality).


There're no multiple beauties, but one, Beauty. Truth is Beauty; style is nothing but a scope of the prismatic properties of Truth.

Unfortunately people wanders astray in fragments, beautiful things over here and there, but not an integrative sense of beauty.

Quote

"But that's subjective!"

Answer: everything is subjective based on the limitations of the perceiver. In other words, just because you can't tell the difference between Britney and Beethoven doesn't mean it does not exist. 

Indeed. When a man makes music, all depends on his intelligence to answer the aesthetic question. It happens the same for the listener. The big disgrace is that music, in practical use, is no longer treated as Art by none of them.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 18, 2009, 11:04:28 PM
What about all three? Innovation doesn't exist by itself; it is driven by the need to express. Sensuousness similarly. Further, craftmanship; we've seen too many cases of musicians playing below their ability to make a point. Maybe what art seeks to do, as W.S. Burroughs suggests, is represent some aspect of reality in an exciting and poetic way.
Did you read the whole thing? The author wouldn't likely disagree with anything you just said. I think it's also worth pointing out that he comes out of the whole Downtown/minimalist milieu so I doubt the subversion of conventional notions of craftsmanship would be lost on him.

When you try to quantify what separates "good" and "bad" art, all you get are silly descriptions like "innovation" and "complexity," but when it comes down to it, all that really matters is that the art has some sort of depth or profundity in its execution and intent--qualities that are best felt, not described in lists.

I could, for example, try to tell you what makes an album like Discharge's "Hear Nothing..." profound, but until you come to understand it through your own experience, my words will mean nothing to you.
If this is directed at me, I think you misread me. I don't advocate anything as bluntly reductionistic as "INNOVATION 3/5, PRODUCTION 4/5, LYRICS 2.5/5" and so on down the line as if they were the stats for a video game character. Moreover, I directly brought up exactly the issue of intent/execution in my post. If not, then whatever, gotta post post

Re: Objective quality of music
August 20, 2009, 08:37:37 AM
What about all three? Innovation doesn't exist by itself; it is driven by the need to express. Sensuousness similarly. Further, craftmanship; we've seen too many cases of musicians playing below their ability to make a point. Maybe what art seeks to do, as W.S. Burroughs suggests, is represent some aspect of reality in an exciting and poetic way.
Did you read the whole thing? The author wouldn't likely disagree with anything you just said. I think it's also worth pointing out that he comes out of the whole Downtown/minimalist milieu so I doubt the subversion of conventional notions of craftsmanship would be lost on him.

No, I didn't -- it was babble. No offense, but I recognized immediately a certain style of writing/thinking that was popular in academia and avoided it. Bad logic ahoy.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 21, 2009, 03:54:18 AM
There are just some things that are good.

So why would you spend your time debating the viability of principles of quality (which may or may not be above your level of understanding), when you could instead apply yourself to what you know in your heart to be of quality?

That's where I'm at right now.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 22, 2009, 01:54:12 AM
There are just some things that are good.

So why would you spend your time debating the viability of principles of quality (which may or may not be above your level of understanding), when you could instead apply yourself to what you know in your heart to be of quality?

I am sure this has been an argument used in support of every bigotry that this world has known from racism to young earth creationism. Unfortunately this idea only confirms what one wants to believe, not that which is true.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 23, 2009, 08:42:07 PM
Quote from: celticcross
how I do discover them? Listen, keep digging by repeated listening until you dig it. then after you have managed to appreciate both pieces, one of them will probably start to bore you after some time(if you listen enough)? Why? Because it is I N F E R I O R.

What if you're beyond boredom?


Re: Objective quality of music
August 23, 2009, 08:42:39 PM
Music is not, as many people think, a bunch of sounds that they might like for unknown reasons.

Music is language, information, as simple as that. Appreciation is the ability to decode this language and to mentally build that specific colors of the musical moment, and to grasp the entire idea of a work. Through this organization, the composer tell us his Weltanschauung, then you compare it with life and you go through life with that.

I can't stand people indicting TV, stupid movies, stupid books, then enjoying stupid music as it was a casual and unattainable object apart from reality.

You may fill your head with useless and vapid information (Spears, Britney) and go through life in that way, but you will be objectively a fool, regardless your annual income.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 25, 2009, 12:54:46 AM
-there are always differences. Something is of higher quality than something else. Sometimes the difference is bigger, sometimes it is not
-britney and Beethoven=huge difference. Beethoven is better. Mozart vs. Beethoven=small(er) difference. Beethoven is once again better.
-how I do discover them? Listen, keep digging by repeated listening until you dig it. then after you have managed to appreciate both pieces, one of them will probably start to bore you after some time(if you listen enough)? Why? Because it is I N F E R I O R.

You are confusing a particular end of yours for an objective omnipresent value system that exists outside of the human. The question of why is always present if one is trying to talk of an objective all encompassing value system when they reject metaphysical arguments. Beethoven is better than Mozart, why? You can name specific elements of what you perceive to be better but it can still be said why do these elements have value? In the end it comes down to this, Beethoven is better than Britney Spears because it furthers my own philosophy, my own ethos. This is a worldly goal and can be argued for or against. Some vague idea of some external value system independent of people cannot be proven any more than the existence of a god.

I happen to prefer Mozart to Beethoven. Can you change my mind by convincing me that Beethoven is objectively better than Mozart?

Re: Objective quality of music
August 25, 2009, 01:40:07 AM
Quote
Hence, with the exception of Epicureanism, which Neoplatonism dreaded as its mortal enemy, every important system of former times was drawn upon by the new philosophy. But we should not on that account call Neoplatonism an eclectic system in the usual sense of the word. For in the first place, it had one pervading and all-predominating interest, the religious; and in the second place, it introduced into philosophy a new supreme principle, the super-rational, or the super-essential. This principle should not be identified with the “Ideas” of Plato or the “Form” of Aristotle. For as Zeller rightly says: “In Plato and Aristotle the distinction of the sensuous and the intelligible is the strongest expression for belief in the truth of thought; it is only sensuous perception and sensuous existence whose relative falsehood they presuppose; but of a higher stage of spiritual life lying beyond idea and thought, there is no mention. In Neoplatonism, on the other hand, it is just this super-rational element which is regarded as the final goal of all effort, and the highest ground of all existence; the knowledge gained by thought is only an intermediate stage between sensuous perception and the super-rational intuition; the intelligible forms are not that which is highest and last, but only the media by which the influences of the formless original essence are communicated to the world. This view therefore presupposes not merely doubt of the reality of sensuous existence and sensuous notions, but absolute doubt, aspiration beyond all reality. The highest intelligible is not that which constitutes the real content of thought, but only that which is presupposed and earnestly desired by man as the unknowable ground of his thought.” Neoplatonism recognised that a religious ethic can be built neither on sense-perception nor on knowledge gained by the understanding, and that it cannot be justified by these; it therefore broke both with intellectual ethics and with utilitarian morality. But for that very reason, having as it were parted with perception and understanding in relation to the ascertaining of the highest truth, it was compelled to seek for a new world and a new function in the human spirit, in order to ascertain the existence of what it desired, and to comprehend and describe that of which it had ascertained the existence. But man cannot transcend his psychological endowment. An iron ring incloses him. He who does not allow his thought to be determined by experience falls a prey to fancy, that is thought which cannot be suppressed assumes a mythological aspect: superstition takes the place of reason, dull gazing at something incomprehensible is regarded as the highest goal of the spirit’s efforts, and every conscious activity of the spirit is subordinated to visionary conditions artificially brought about. But that every conceit may not be allowed to assert itself, the gradual exploration of every region of knowledge according to every method of acquiring it, is demanded as a preliminary—the Neoplatonists did not make matters easy for themselves,—and a new and mighty principle is set up which is to bridle fancy, viz., the authority of a sure tradition. This authority must be superhuman, otherwise it would not come under consideration; it must therefore be divine. On divine disclosures, that is revelations, must rest both the highest super-rational region of knowledge and the possibility of knowledge itself. In a word, the philosophy which Neoplatonism represents, whose final interest is the religious, and whose highest object is the super-rational, must be a philosophy of revelation.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/harnack/dogma1.ii.iv.iii.html

What they're saying is it is our doom to never comprehend the pure essence of being, ultimate truth, beyond ourselves. We can't. We can only believe it is there and in believing we set forth in striving toward it. Stop believing in this pure essence out there beyond us and declension to relativism, atomism, nothingness, evil and ignorance overtakes us. The above quote also belongs to the religion and relativism threads.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 25, 2009, 03:08:23 AM
I happen to prefer Mozart to Beethoven. Can you change my mind by convincing me that Beethoven is objectively better than Mozart?

I can't provide concrete proof that Beethoven is superior, but to me, the majority of Mozart's work sounds more formulaic than Beethoven, while Beethoven sounds more expressive. Of course, this is just one guy's opinion.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 25, 2009, 03:58:08 AM
-there are always differences. Something is of higher quality than something else. Sometimes the difference is bigger, sometimes it is not
-britney and Beethoven=huge difference. Beethoven is better. Mozart vs. Beethoven=small(er) difference. Beethoven is once again better.
-how I do discover them? Listen, keep digging by repeated listening until you dig it. then after you have managed to appreciate both pieces, one of them will probably start to bore you after some time(if you listen enough)? Why? Because it is I N F E R I O R.

You are confusing a particular end of yours for an objective omnipresent value system that exists outside of the human. The question of why is always present if one is trying to talk of an objective all encompassing value system when they reject metaphysical arguments. Beethoven is better than Mozart, why? You can name specific elements of what you perceive to be better but it can still be said why do these elements have value? In the end it comes down to this, Beethoven is better than Britney Spears because it furthers my own philosophy, my own ethos. This is a worldly goal and can be argued for or against. Some vague idea of some external value system independent of people cannot be proven any more than the existence of a god.

I happen to prefer Mozart to Beethoven. Can you change my mind by convincing me that Beethoven is objectively better than Mozart?

You can't prove the objective, you can only assimilate it and add it to your subjective worldview (this pretty much goes by definition). Proving to you that Beethoven is better than Mozart won't somehow "fool" the system and prove that objective reality exists.

Objective reality is something you strive for, because understanding your world better will make you a more successful living organism. If you agree with this idea, then you will naturally carry it over to the way you judge music, train yourself and build up skills to judge music as close to objectively as possible. This of course requires learning from people who have done so before you and trusting that the direction they have take is correct so far.

Many people realize that the objective is unobtainable in the absolute and just give up. You know, it's all subjective, man, just stick to whatever floats your boat. But if science has taught us anything it should be that we can in fact improve our understanding of the world. We have been able to do some extraordinary things, which means we definitely got something right. Otherwise, we would have never gone to the Moon; physics is that unforgiving. So again, the objective is something you strive for, not something you can prove exists as an external value system.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 25, 2009, 05:04:40 AM
You can't prove the objective, you can only assimilate it and add it to your subjective worldview (this pretty much goes by definition). Proving to you that Beethoven is better than Mozart won't somehow "fool" the system and prove that objective reality exists.

Objective reality is something you strive for, because understanding your world better will make you a more successful living organism. If you agree with this idea, then you will naturally carry it over to the way you judge music, train yourself and build up skills to judge music as close to objectively as possible. This of course requires learning from people who have done so before you and trusting that the direction they have take is correct so far.

Many people realize that the objective is unobtainable in the absolute and just give up. You know, it's all subjective, man, just stick to whatever floats your boat. But if science has taught us anything it should be that we can in fact improve our understanding of the world. We have been able to do some extraordinary things, which means we definitely got something right. Otherwise, we would have never gone to the Moon; physics is that unforgiving. So again, the objective is something you strive for, not something you can prove exists as an external value system.


Objectivity is something to be strived for but I will not create things out of convenience in order to fill such a need. Science has shown us that as far as our understanding of the universe goes we have not been able to discern any inherent value within it. We are talking about such things as better and worse not quantitive matters such as bigger and smaller to which you were referring to when we were talking of objective reality. Here we are not looking at any particular physical element of the music but we are rather making a value judgment as to its worth.

The creation and/or existence of an objective value system is the same as religion. There must be something that gives human ideas of value real worth that covers all humans and lives outside of them. Because nothing in this universe can give inherent meaning to anything else it must exist outside, parallel or in conjunction with another universe or outside our own. Such an entity or force is the same kind of entities and forces that are worshipped by every religion around the world. The entire book "Beyond Good and Evil" By Nietzsche was about the subjective non-existence of man's morals in the real world, hence the title.

Do not think that I permit any action or deed because I believe the world of value to be subjective. I was simply casting down the idea of objective morality and I thought what should replace this void was not within the scope of this argument.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 25, 2009, 05:40:48 AM

Objectivity is something to be strived for but I will not create things out of convenience in order to fill such a need. Science has shown us that as far as our understanding of the universe goes we have not been able to discern any inherent value within it. We are talking about such things as better and worse not quantitive matters such as bigger and smaller to which you were referring to when we were talking of objective reality. Here we are not looking at any particular physical element of the music but we are rather making a value judgment as to its worth.

The creation and/or existence of an objective value system is the same as religion. There must be something that gives human ideas of value real worth that covers all humans and lives outside of them. Because nothing in this universe can give inherent meaning to anything else it must exist outside, parallel or in conjunction with another universe or outside our own. Such an entity or force is the same kind of entities and forces that are worshipped by every religion around the world. The entire book "Beyond Good and Evil" By Nietzsche was about the subjective non-existence of man's morals in the real world, hence the title.

Do not think that I permit any action or deed because I believe the world of value to be subjective. I was simply casting down the idea of objective morality and I thought what should replace this void was not within the scope of this argument.


Science has shown the value of truth - deduction based on true premises will yield results that work in the real world. Value systems are not external, but they can reflect the importance of truth and thus they can resemble reality. Just because something is subjective, doesn't mean it excludes objective reality. The two can overlap and you want them to overlap to improve your understanding.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 26, 2009, 12:53:45 AM
Science has shown the value of truth - deduction based on true premises will yield results that work in the real world. Value systems are not external, but they can reflect the importance of truth and thus they can resemble reality. Just because something is subjective, doesn't mean it excludes objective reality. The two can overlap and you want them to overlap to improve your understanding.

Our values have been created over the millions of years of our evolution to allow us to survive. That is all that morality is. There is a reason why the earth orbits its center of gravity, a reason why paper ignites at the temperature that it does but there is no value in it. In the same way these processes occur without value is the same way the human works. The human is a set of moving parts, a whole array of processes that lacks value. Humans may make value but it is purely a human idea that does not exist in nature.

Man may make value and it may be tested, debated, argued and falsified but it is not a value system that is inherent to the universe but only relative to the human. You are right man's values are based upon reality or at least a facet or particular element of reality. However these values are only meant to allow man to survive and to feel good.  Even such emotions as empathy and pity only serve to allow man to live. As we leave the lifestyle that these values were crafted for and we enter pursuits that are beyond ideas of survival because it is assured we find that morality becomes a problem. In the end our societies are simply an agreement between people to try and survive and be happy in a safer environment.

The will of music is the product of its construction. The orchestration, the notation and performance all and entirely creates the will of the music. Thus the spirit of the music is entirely grounded in the physical world and is open to observation, criticisms etc.  We can look at what musical elements contribute to what set of wills and show how certain music creates certain feelings in a person. I am saying that through this process we can show that Beethoven can make a person happier than Britney Spears. We can show that he is to a certain degree objectively better than Spears in this pursuit.  However we can also show by the same method that this car is faster than this car because these judgments are grounded in reality but that does not make the faster car better or greater than the slower car, it just means it is objectively faster. In the same way Beethoven is not objectively better than Spears but can objectively create greater happiness.

I believe in value, I just reject the idea of inherent value in the universe.

Re: Objective quality of music
August 26, 2009, 01:32:06 AM
^ I think we can put an end to this digression by agreeing that music doesn't have objective quality but has fairly consistent effects on human beings, especially if they come from the same cultural background as each other, especially if they all come from the same cultural background as the music.

Things that cause music to have a consistent effect would be psychoacoustics. Harmonic and melodic intervals have consistent objective aspects and human minds perceive them the same way. A fifth interval in a chord has a frequency ratio of approx 3:2, thus it has a strong sound and the vast majority of listeners would agree. A minor second interval has a ratio of about 25:24 (even crazier, really), so it sounds harsh. 99.99999% of people will agree. Now, which harmonies are too harsh or confusing to be used in good taste has changed over the centuries, but their relative subjective quality remains the same. Objectively, a minor second and fifth have the same quality - none. But subjectively, they have a very different effect. Same thing for melodic intervals, the conjunct-ness of a melody, functional (i.e. I-IV-V) harmonic progressions, effects of rhythm, the logical effect of structuring and arrangement, how bizarre microtonal music sounds, etc. I don't want to go into a whole lecture on this, so just look it up for more info.

The second would be cultural consensus. I've read that different keys were once thought to have different characteristics. C minor was the key of heroic struggle, Bflat minor was morose and lonely, D major was celebratory, A major was suitable for music about love and so on. I don't think there is a psychoacoustic explanation for these, except that C major (the white keys of a piano) was considered the most basic key for a long time, so the farther a piece of music modulated from that, the stranger it would sound from what listeners were used to. Certain melodic and rhythmic patterns have become understood to have certain meanings, and some structures we get used to, and are exploited (see verse/chorus). Included in this is the practices of sticking to convention and breaking convention. Good pieces of music often seem to do both. There is an agreed-upon standard that we all understand, and they it is broken away from temporarily for effect.

Taking these small things into account, we recognize that all complex systems (the human mind, a computer, a symphony, or the human mind while listening to a simple song) are built out of small parts and the function of the large system depends on how these small elements interact. Some things are still to complex to compare their every element for an objective assessment which is better from any subjective point-of-view, but it could eventually be possible to do so, say with a thoroughly researched model of the average human mind and a big enough computer. <- Thinking about this, I wonder if it would then be possible for a computer to write The Perfect Song, or something close.

Put simply, you could say music has certain objective aspects that have strong subjective implications.